Monday Visit – We arrived in Yantai in the early afternoon on Monday and proceeded approximately 120km to a modern facility in Qixia.
The facility was modern and set up similarly to most Washington State packers. The packing line had a four-lane sizer with a water dump. The line didn’t have waxing capabilities, but did have 28 individual drops. They have six smaller CA rooms of approximately 1,000-1,200 bins, but none where used as CA, only common storage. They use SmartFresh on all of their apples coming out of storage, extending their marketing to May of this year. They pack between 300,000 and 400,000 cartons annually with 90% export, India being their largest/highest return market. As a point of reference, India paid US$32.00 equivalent for Premium 20kg Fujis. All sales are handled internally.
The two most difficult markets to access (from a protocol standpoint) for Chinese packers are the EU and Canada. With the strong market penetration into India, they have little or no interest in shipping into Canada due to the stringent packing protocol. When asked if they would have interest in shipping to the United States if regulations allowed, they said ‘yes’ but only as long as it made economic sense.
This packer wanted us to come to our own conclusion as to how they compared to other Chinese packers. We were left with the impression that they were the best, if not certainly one of the few better packers of Chinese apples. This was confirmed by our additional visits. We were told five to six packers in the Shandong Province possessed the capabilities to export to high quality (EU & Canada) markets.